Deltona’s Planning and Zoning Board has approved a request to rezone 85 acres next to Interstate 4 on the city’s north side, to allow an as-yet-undisclosed company to build and operate a huge warehouse and shipping complex.
The proposal now goes to the City Commission for a final decision.
“This project represents years of economic-development efforts on the part of the city,” Deltona Development Services Director Ron Paradise said.
After more than an hour of listening and discussion, including comments from residents, the Planning and Zoning Board Sept. 18 voted in favor of the 1.4 million-square-foot building.
Much of the concern about the project deals with the traffic that it would generate.
Expect quick movement
“We are hoping to break ground in the December time frame,” Paul Seefried told the board.
Seefried is vice president of Seefried Industrial Properties, an Atlanta firm representing the company whose identity is now shrouded in secrecy, at that company’s request. City officials are honoring a confidential nondisclosure agreement, and say they can’t disclose the company’s name, or other details about negotiations involving the company.
State law permits local governments to shield the identity of companies eyeing a relocation or major expansion while negotiations for site selections and acquisitions take place.
Speculation surrounds the deal in the making, as some insist the mystery company is Amazon. City leaders are mum on the matter.
Amazon reportedly was scouting for a site along I-4 in West Volusia for a distribution center in 2013 and 2014, but the retail behemoth ultimately located such a facility in the Tampa area.
How the process works
The approval of the project comes as a rezoning of the tract, situated between I-4 and North Normandy Boulevard, from Industrial to Industrial Planned Unit Development (IPUD).
A planned-unit development enables a developer and future owner of the property to do things not normally permitted under standard zoning.
For example, Deltona’s zoning regulations limit the height of buildings to 35 feet, but the proposed IPUD would allow a maximum height of 60 feet. The board voted in favor of the IPUD, with the recommendation to the City Commission that it do likewise.
“The property has been earmarked for industrial use, dating back to 1989,” Paradise told the board and the audience. “It’s a two-story building … [that] will be part of the community for the next 50 years.”
What about opportunities?
The number of jobs the unnamed company will create in Deltona is unclear, but Paradise said it “will be the largest employer in the city.”
“I can’t give you an exact number, but it will be several hundred,” Seefried replied, when board members asked about the size of the workforce at the planned facility.
The planning staff’s report notes the complex will operate around the clock, 24 hours a day, with two shifts of employees.
More on traffic going and coming
Paradise said the distribution center will generate an additional 2,596 trips per day, and about 336 of those vehicles “will be heavy trucks.”
Yet, he added, “the city’s road network has the capacity to absorb those trips.”
North Normandy Boulevard is currently a two-lane road, but the development provides for improvements such as special turn lanes and deceleration lanes, along with ingress/egress restrictions.
Modifications will also be made to roadways at the I-4/State Road 472/Howland Boulevard interchange to prevent congestion.
“I came from New York. I left New York because I don’t want to be in traffic,” Miriam Schechter said, adding she is concerned about pollution coming from the complex. “I do organic gardening … Was there an environmental-impact study done?”
The environmental study will take place before construction starts, leaders said. The staff report noted the land may be home to some endangered, threatened or protected species of wildlife, such as gopher tortoises and scrub jays.
“I moved from Miami to get out of traffic,” Steve Delacerda told the board. “[East] Graves Avenue is already backed up at 4:30 [p.m.].”
“Money, money, money — that’s what drives this. Not quality of life,” Carmen May said. “This will be an eyesore in our community. … This project shows a lack of creativity and a lack of conscience.”
Applause erupted in the audience.
“For the people coming in, I just ask that they be good stewards of the city,” Dana McCool said.
“All we know is, we’re trying to attract jobs,” Planning and Zoning Board Member Mike Putkowski said.
The panel voted 6-1 for the rezoning. Board Member Stony Sixma cast the dissenting vote.
“It’s too massive for the infrastructure in that area,” he said afterward, in defense of his stand.
The City Commission may act on the rezoning request next month.